Throughout the years, recycling has been a part of major environmental efforts to reduce plastic waste all over the world.
As a manufacturer of rigid plastic containers, we understand that recyclability and longer life cycles are two of the most important things that our customers are looking for in our products. And whilst, it is true that there are very limited options to achieve full recyclability of plastics, we are always on the lookout for innovative ways to meet this need.
Australian Packaging Covenant
The Australian Packaging Covenant is an agreement between the Australian, State and Territory governments and the packaging industry, which aims to:
- Optimise resource recovery of consumer packaging through the supply chain
- Prevent the impacts of fugitive packaging on the environment.
Among the agreement’s key objectives is to develop strategies to recover and reuse packaging across industry sectors and supply chains.
Pool Chemicals and Chlorine Industry
Recently, the pool chemical and chlorine industries have started testing this method of recovering and reusing packaging containers.
Consumers return their used container to the supply company and the supply company then returns the container back to chemical manufacturer. The containers are washed, and dried, and then returned to the same supply company to be refilled with similar products and sold to the same consumers.
Initially, this method was introduced for the cost-effectiveness of pool chemicals and had the additional benefit of recyclability of the containers.
Companies reuse their 15 and 20-litre containers for a maximum of 5 years from the manufacturing date of the container. A customer buys a container of the pool chemical, pours it into their pool and after use, takes the container back to the store to have it replaced with another container of the product.
Customers pay a deposit once, for the container when they first purchase, which is usually around $10. They then return the empty container for exchange for a full one. They just pay for the product (contents) from that point on.
There are, however, a number of risks associated with reusing industrial containers, as there is no guarantee that the end-user will not cross-contaminate the products. Many industrial chemicals may explode when put together and can cause a potential safety hazard.
Compostable Plastic Containers – Bio Plastics
Polylactic acid (PLA), also known as starch resin, is a type of thermoplastic polymer derived from renewable fermented resources, like cornstarch or sugarcane.
Starch plastics are bio-compostable. They decompose on their own under certain conditions, which means they cannot be simply thrown away in recycling bins so as not to defeat the purpose of these bins. And because it is compostable, it degrades quickly and may not be suitable for large rigid plastic containers.
Hemp plastics are made from the stalk of the hemp plant.
Hemp bioplastic is an affordable, natural fibre composite that can be used to replace oil-based materials. Biodegradable, recyclable and toxin-free – hemp bioplastic can help address many pressing environmental issues.
Class Plastics mainly uses high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to manufacture our containers, which is by far stronger than any other standard polymer. It is also the easiest type of plastic to recycle.
From what we have seen, there are biodegradable resins out there with additives that may be suitable for smaller containers but not for rigid plastic containers like ours. The entry cost for most of these resins is also twice as much as that of standard polymers that are available in the marketplace.
Whilst we don’t see the possibility of manufacturing biodegradable containers at the moment, we are continually on the lookout for innovative ideas around plastic recycling and life cycles. There’s a long way to go for plastics to be fully recyclable and biodegradable but we firmly believe that our technology is getting there.